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5 Ways to Beat Procrastination

5 Ways to Beat Procrastination

Ever have a plan in the works that you just can’t seem to get excited about? Ever have a deadline lacking the “gusto” to get you going? Ever stare at a blank screen wondering what everyone else is up to? Then this post is for you.

In the advent of social media, 4K television, and let’s face it -YouTube – it can be all too easy to play “Hide and Seek” with the multitude of tasks that we have at hand. Life seems to be moving so fast that in order to keep up we must shelf our individual obligations in favor of aimless digital wandering – to our own detriment.

A huge part of the problem in today’s balancing act of life is our increasing inability to “disconnect” and tackle our goals forthright. Assuming that you’re able to pull away from the cord – here are 5 ways to beat procrastination.

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Call Your Own Bluff

A big part of what consumes our focus are the bottomless thoughts of other, more entertaining things that we could be doing instead of what we are supposed to be engaged with. Whether it be exercising, starting that novel you’ve been thinking about, or perhaps even finally sending a message to that person that you have a crush on. As valid and enduring as these things may seem – chances are that they’re non-pressing issues that can be dealt with at a later time. The trick here is to call your own bluff.

Instead of wasting time daydreaming about the “better” things that you could be doing – do them. Indulge your procrastinative thoughts. Usually, the things that we think about doing to avoid what we should be doing are meaningless and relatively inconsequential. Make a deal with yourself that it’s either one or the other – and watch as those pointless thoughts dissolve.

Once faced with the obvious selection of reality versus fantasy, your drive will take effect, and your respective task should be easy to begin. In any case, should you choose latter, (with the distraction solved) you can – at that time – engage your initial responsibility.

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Go For a Walk

All too often we underestimate the power of taking a walk. To the procrastinator, it can seem like a time waster, meaningless, and just down-right boring. Defeat this thought by just getting up and moving. You don’t require a destination, nor do you need much else other than shoes on your feet and clothes on your back.

Walking provides an escape from the space of distraction and a separation from embedded laziness. Give yourself anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full hour to simply leave your home and wander about for a bit. This provides an arena for your action and thoughts to become a singularity. As your ideas wander aimlessly so do you. You’ll find that by doing this, you exhaust the momentum of your inner procrastinator.

Upon returning home with a clear mind – go directly to the task at hand. With your thoughts freed, your focus will become clear and unwavering.

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Why’s and Why Not’s

Should you not have the time to go for a walk or indulge in internal ultimatums, a simple list of why’s and why not’s can be a quick and easy way to sort through the muddled procrastinative mind. This list never has to be put into action. Instead, what writing this down does, is force your mind to focus on that responsibility.

Assuming that your obligation is important, the “why’s” section of your list will undoubtedly be longer than the “why not’s”. In either case, fold that list in half and concentrate on the why’s. Use this as motivation to handle your task, as well as a catalyst of focus should your diluting thoughts return.

Create a Reward

Human beings are complex, yet simple. If you look at anyone around you and honestly at yourself, you’ll find that there are few better functioning systems than ones built on rewards. This never has to be anything monumental – as a matter of fact, it may even work better if the reward is something small and immediate.

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Treat yourself to a snack, purchase something that you can’t justify buying, or create a checklist and bask in the jubilance of crossing it off. Little things can drive motivation, considering that your procrastination often goes unrewarded (or even punished) – a small of token of achievement to work toward, can easily silence the beast of aimless mental wandering.

Accountability

Considering none of the aforementioned advice works, an easy fail-safe method to annihilate procrastination is simply adding accountability. Instead of sitting around and staring at the ceiling, phone a friend or family member close to you, and explain the situation to them. Inform them of the importance of the task at hand, and ask them to hold you accountable for it’s incompletion.

Keep in mind, the friend or family member never really has to do much. The instant that the correspondence is over, the gravity of your responsibility will feel as if it’s been multiplied ten-fold. In essence, you’d be tapping into the human condition known as “fight or flight”. This added pressure will drive ambition, enhance focus, and provide momentum. Though seemingly severe, it’s a great way to kick yourself into high gear.

Conclusion

Procrastination can seem like an unbeatable wall on the path to achieving your goals. Though many may attempt to avoid it by staying habitually active – the truth of the matter is that sometimes the best method is to confront it head-on. With the help of these steps, procrastination will become a worry of the past.

Featured photo credit: Shlomi Yosef via flickr.com

More by this author

Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

What Happens When Ego Closes Our Mind but We Aren’t Aware of It The Hardest Part of Being a Minimalist That Most People Have Overlooked 5 Ways to Beat Procrastination How to Survive the Holidays. 5 Productive Ways to Multitask

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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